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In That Case? (Transfer Case Exchange)

Ever wonder how all-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive vehicles get the power from the engine to the front and rear wheels? The magic happens in what's called a transfer case.  In some all-wheel-drive vehicles, it's sometime called a power take-off unit, or PTU. Inside the transfer case is a set of gears.  And to keep those gears meshing smoothly, they have to be lubricated and kept cool.  What does that is called transfer case fluid. Depending on your vehicle's type of transfer case, it is filled with either an automatic transmission fluid, a gear oil that's a bit thicker or transfer case fluid designed to be use for your transfer case. As happens with all lubricating fluids, the transfer case fluid has things in it that break down the older they get.  They have corrosion inhibitors, detergents and anti-foaming agents that keep the lubricant from getting air bubbles in it. Transfer cases don't have filters in them to clean out impurities. If you don't have your transfer ... read more

Always on Guard (TMPS)

One of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle running safely is to make sure your tires are properly inflated.  If one or more is vastly over- or underinflated, that has the potential to cause major handling problems and may result in a dangerous accident. All vehicles in recent years are equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, or TPMS.  One system uses small sensors in the tires that continually check the pressure in each tire.  That sensor sends a signal to computers in your vehicle which turns on an instrument panel light warning of low pressure when at least one is very low. Or it may update a numeric reading on your instrument panel which gives you an approximation of how many PSI (pounds per square inch) of air is in each tire.  Another system works with your antilock brake system to measure the size of your vehicle’s tires.  When one wheel is going faster than another, it will spin faster. A computer sees that and alerts ... read more

Categories:

TPMS

Tire or Re-Tire? (Getting Tires Ready for Hot Weather)

Heat isn't easy on vehicle tires, and as the seasons change, make sure yours are ready to take the heat.  Let's talk first about inflation.  Heat causes air to expand, so heat alone can raise the pressure in your tires.  If you are driving on overinflated tires, they won't have as much contact with the road surface.  In that case, it will take you a longer distance to stop. On the other hand, you don't want your tires to be underinflated during hot weather, either.  That can cause your sidewalls to flex.  Friction will then hike up the temperature and your tire can be in danger of blowing from the added heat. Other things can cause problems, such as uneven wearing.  Your service advisor knows the signs to look for and can diagnose where the wear is and what is likely causing it.  Another thing a technician will look for on tires is tread depth and the condition of the sidewalls.  Any cuts, cracks or bulges could be indications that your tire ... read more

Categories:

Tires

What's in a Number? (What Tire Numbers Mean)

You've probably never paid much attention to the writing on the sides of your tires, but they contain a wealth of information.  There's a long combination of letters and numbers that can tell you a whole lot about what tires your vehicle was designed to be riding on.  Let's check out this example found on an SUV: P245/70R17 108T. The first letter, P, means it's intended for passenger vehicles.  If there's no letter, it means it's a metric tire.  If there's an LT at the beginning or end that means a tire designed for light trucks. Moving on to our example, the 245 shows how wide the tire is in millimeters from sidewall to sidewall.  The number that follows in our example, 70, means the height of the tire is 70% of its width.  The letter after that in our example, R, describes the type of tire (on this vehicle, radial).  Following that is the diameter in inches, in our SUV example, 17 inches.  How much load the tires' sidewalls are designed to take ... read more

Categories:

Tires

A Honking Big Jam (Stuck Horn)

At one time or another, most drivers honk their horn at someone who might be texting at a stoplight or not paying attention when they're driving.  But what happens when you tap on your horn and all of a sudden it won't quit? Everyone's looking at you like you're an angry jerk and all you want to do is turn it off! It helps to know the basics of what's happening when you honk your horn.  There's a switch in the steering wheel, of course, and when you press on it, it sends power to a relay which then energizes the horn.  Bingo.  Sound.  When the horn sticks on, one of these parts or the wiring has developed a problem.  With the ear-splitting noise inside your cabin, it may be hard to keep your cool, but do your best to stay calm.  Try pushing the horn several times; it may un-stick the switch if you're lucky.  If not, there are a couple of things you can try. First, if you can, pull your vehicle off the road and into a spot where you're not disrupt ... read more

Poor Reflections (Door Mirror Problems)

Mirror, mirror on the door, why is my vision there so poor? Well, you could have a broken outside rearview mirror that's disabled your blind spot vision there and endangering your ability to see some of the traffic around you.  Outside rearview (or door) mirrors are important safety devices that are thoughtfully designed to help drivers see.  And there are a variety of ways those door mirrors can develop problems. One is when the glass is broken in them.  Sometimes it's caused by an accident or vandalism.  But without your ability to see in that mirror, you could be driving blind, unable to see drivers approaching from the rear in adjacent lanes.  Sometimes it's as simple as having the glass replaced.  You'll greatly enhance your safety if you do. Then there's the door mirror that you can't adjust.  First, let's look at a common scenario in later models, the power mirror.  They're great when they're working, awful when they're not.  Sometime ... read more

How Tired Are Your Tires? (Tire replacement)

Of the things you think about most, your tires are probably pretty far down the list. That’s understandable because today’s tires are engineered to do their job without needing you to pay too much attention to them. But they DO wear out, and worn tires can contribute to skidding in bad weather, not being able to stop, a ride full of uncomfortable vibrations and, even a sudden blowout. Yikes. Let’s figure out right now how to know if your tires need replacing! Let’s face it. Most of us don’t know the first thing about tires. So, the best way to make sure what shape yours are in is to take your vehicle to a qualified service facility to have the tires checked out by a trained technician.  Here are things they’ll check: Tread.  Tread is the part of the tire that touches the road surface.  Different tires have different tread patterns and something called tread blocks - the raised rubber parts that contact the road. The longer a tire has ... read more

Categories:

Tires

Don't be Fuelish (Signs Fuel Pump is Failing)

A driver of a large SUV loaded with equipment was heading on a 7-hour work trip when he stopped at a gas station to refuel.  When he went to restart his SUV, it turned over but wouldn't catch.  Try as he might, he was never able to get it started again.  Of course there are many things that can cause those symptoms, but the next day he had his SUV towed to a service repair facility.  Using their test equipment, they were able to pinpoint the problem.  His fuel pump had failed.  The pump, which was located in the fuel tank, had to be replaced, and after awhile he was back on the road, delayed, but happy to be up and running again.  What had happened is that the pump was not strong enough to deliver adequate  fuel to his engine, vital to being able to start it.  It had delivered just enough pressure in the morning to get it started the first time, but it was on its last legs.  He had been having trouble starting his SUV in the days leadin ... read more

Categories:

Fuel System

The Red Menace (How to Deal with Rust)

Rust.  It's worse if you drive in places that use salt on the roads in winter, or if you spend time driving near a body of salt water.  But any vehicle has to deal with rust after years on the road.  And it's not just that rust can eat away your vehicle's body and fenders.  It can be a real problem around your suspension, drivetrain or any place where there's metal. Rust takes its time.  You don't see it until it's already done its dirty work.  It can wreak havoc with your electrical system.  Sure, vehicle manufacturers do their best to keep it to a minimum, but especially with road treatments like brine around, their task is a difficult one. The one spot everyone notices is in the paint.  You see a little bubbling under the once-smooth surface.  By the time it bubbles, it's well involved in rotting away that spot of your vehicle.  You wouldn't believe how just a little thing can start the process on its way.  A stone chips the pai ... read more

If You Drive Like a Maniac (Aggressive Driving is Bad for a Vehicle)

When someone mentions driving like a maniac, they're not talking about you, surely? Besides the safety issues of aggressive driving, you should know that your vehicle will last a lot longer if you'll just mellow out a little.  Here are four traits good drivers follow if they want their vehicles to go the extra distance. Cool—The driver who can't wait to get to the next stoplight is just shortening the life of his or her vehicle.  Jackrabbit starts and uneven acceleration hurts your engine because the valves and cylinder heads are stressed more.  All of those moving parts will wear out faster as well as other components that are connected.  That means things like the air conditioner, power steering pump… just about anything that attaches by a belt or a pulley.  Oh, and you'll be generating more heat.  Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies. Warm—If you get in your cold vehicle which has been sitting overnight, start it up and rev the en ... read more